Camping, Family, Top Lists

Top 5 Family Campgrounds – Arkansas

What is the first thought that you think of when you think of Arkansas? For me, it certainly wasn’t densely wooded national forests, mountains, or diamonds. In fact, I wouldn’t have looked twice at camping in Arkansas in the past. However, now that I have experienced a bit of what the state has to offer it is a must-see for me in the south. They certainly don’t call it “the natural state” for nothing! I am not quite sure if I would say it is my favorite place to camp in the south but it is definitely rising in the ranks the more times that I visit! With so many developed family campgrounds in Arkansas, you are sure to find one that fits your family best.

Below I highlight my top 5 family campgrounds in Arkansas. Just a quick heads up that Arkansas stays pretty temperate throughout the year so anytime is a good time to visit Arkansas for a camping trip!


Arkansas may be a long trip for your family. Keep them occupied with these tips on your road trip!


5. Cove Lake Campground

Top family campgrounds in Arkansas
A campsite with a lake view! Credit: USFS/Recreation.gov

Starting out the top family campgrounds in Arkansas is Cove Lake Campground. This campground sports over 160 acres of camping, hiking, water sports, and fishing in the Ozark National Forest. You will love the fact that everyone in your family will find something to do here while you sit in the shadow of Mount Magazine, Arkansas’ highest peak. The most popular activities include swimming, fishing, hiking, water skiing, and scenic drives. However there are boat rentals and equipment sales from a concession. You won’t want to miss out on the fishing though as the lake is stocked. For young anglers there is even a yearly kids’ fishing derby! However, on those really hot days take a dip in the lake in the swimming area. Or if you have the need for a scenic drive the campground is an easy access point to the top of Mount Magazine.

The campground itself has 36 sites for camping. However, there are also 24 picnic sites available if you are looking for a quick stop on your way to another wonderful Arkansas campground. The campground and surrounding recreation area includes miniature golf, canoe rentals, and lake access. Each site has everything you need to be comfortable including picnic tables and campfire rings. There is easy access, by walking or driving, to bath houses on site as well. Many describe the campground as quiet and cozy. That makes it right up my alley for camping with the family. However, you should come prepared as there are no hookups available at this campground. This will make it a true camping experience!

Cove Lake Campground Details

Number of Sites: 36 RV/Tent Sites

Season: Year-Round

Cost*: $15 per night Campsites

Reservations: Recreation.gov

Features: No Cell Reception / No Internet Connection / Picnic Tables / Trash and Recycling Collection / Staff on-site / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Bath House / Play Area / Swimming Area / Drinking Water

Regulations: Quiet Hours 10pm – 7am / Pet’s Welcome / Fires in provided fire grate only / No fresh wood collection

Activities: Hiking / Wildlife viewing / Swimming / Fishing / Boating / Water Sports / Biking / Horseshoe Pit / Kayak Rentals

4. Tom Sawyer’s RV Park

Top family campgrounds in Arkansas
Watch the river boats right from your campsite! Credit: Tom Sawyer’s RV Park

The sites at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park make them our number four of the top family campgrounds in Arkansas. This is because they overlook the mighty Mississippi River providing a unique and comfortable stay. With the unique orientation a river sunrise can be had every day right from your site! Not to mention that there are a plethora of sites available with 165! These come with a variety of options including full hookups, 30/50AMP electricity, wifi, and shaded areas. The sites are a little close together but you will rarely find a place with the mystique of the Mississippi right from your campsite. Additionally there are both tent and RV sites available. Whether you are coming from out of state or from southern Arkansas you will find some wonderful activities to choose from using Tom Sawyer’s RV Park as a basecamp.

That is because if you want to explore Memphis, TN you are located just over the river. Mephis has wonderful things like Graceland, a children’s museum, carriage tours, and a bustling food scene. This makes it a convenient place to feel wild, but still be nearby some fantastic attractions of a large city. Let’s be honest though. You didn’t haul that RV all the way out to visit Memphis. No you want to enjoy the wilds of the Mississippi River as it courses by Arkansas! The river front sites at this campground are situated perfectly so that you can sit under the awning of your RV or around the picnic table and enjoy the Mississippi River. It is also a starting points for a nice Mississippi River Cruise. So no matter what you are sure to find something for everyone in your family from this campground!

Tom Sawyer’s RV Park Campground Details

Number of Sites: 165 RV/Tent Sites

Season: Year-Round

Cost*: Depends on site amenities – ranges $14 per night (Tent Sites) to $59 per night (RV Sites)

Reservations: (870) 735-9770 – There is no online reservation which is sad.

Features: Cell Reception / Wifi / Picnic Tables / Staff on-site / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Bath House / Full Hookups / Good Sam Discounts

Regulations: Quiet Hours 10pm – 7am / Pet’s Welcome (Breed Restrictions) / Fires in provided fire grate only / No fresh wood collection

Activities: Limited Activities on-site including fishing ponds and walking trails. However, fantastic access to numerous cultural, food, historical, and entertainment venues within short driving distance. These include River Boat Tours, Graceland, National Museums, Guitar Factory, Memphis BBQ.

3. Gamaliel Campground

Top family campgrounds in Arkansas
Gamliel Campground Map. Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers

Many times we get stuck in the thought that we have to camp in corporate, privately owned, state, or national park campgrounds. There is another option though. The US Army Corps of Engineers also manages some campgrounds. Gamliel Campground is one of those campgrounds. this campground is fantastic for families because it is smaller with only 63 campsites but it has a tremendous amount of activities to pursue. The campground itself sits on the shores of Norfolk Lake. The sites have a mix of reservable and non-reservable spots. Additionally, the 63 sites are a mix of tent and RV sites with either just 30 AMP power or a combination of 30 AMP and water. The sites are well spread out and easy to get into. All this makes Gamliel Campground one of the top family campgrounds in Arkansas

So why is Gamliel Campground so good for families? First you have the relatively low cost that is associated with a public campground and the assurance that it is well maintained. Second you get the benefit of a private campground with things like a playground, designated swimming area, a bath house, and a boat launch. Without leaving the campground you already have the means to keep even the pickest campers happy and cool off on a hot day. Additionally there is an easy nature trail right from the campground. Or for you anglers, the lake is stocked and ready for your cast! Just be careful, Norfolk Lake is great for scuba diving as well and you don’t want to hook a human fish. If this isn’t enough for you Gamliel Campground can act as a basecamp for exploring the Ozark National Forest or Bull Shoals Lake.

Gamliel Campground Details

Number of Sites: 63 RV/Tent Sites

Season: April 1 – October 30

Cost*: $20 per night no water / $21 per night with water

Reservations: Recreation.gov

Features: Some Cell Reception / No Internet Connection / Picnic Tables / Trash and Recycling Collection / Staff on-site / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Bath Houses / Nature Trail / Play Area / Swimming Area / Electricity / Dump Station / Marina / Boat Launch / Park

Regulations: Quiet Hours 10pm – 6am / Pet’s Welcome / Fires in provided fire grate only / No fresh wood collection

Activities: Hiking / Wildlife viewing / Swimming / Fishing / Boating / Playgrounds / Scuba Diving

2. Petit Jean State Park

Top family campgrounds in Arkansas
Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park. Credit: Arkansas State Parks

Coming in at number two of the top family campgrounds in Arkansas is Petit Jean State Park. As you can see in the picture above the park offers up some stunning scenery including the 95 foot Cedar Falls. The park includes amazing natural beauty, rock formations, and numerous hiking trails of varying difficulty levels for the whole family. Additionally, beyond the natural beauty, the park includes areas for fishing, swimming, playgrounds, and paddleboat rentals. It truly is a place where everyone can come and find something that they will like to do. If you are in the Little Rock area then you are about an hour and a half away from the park which makes it just far enough to escape the city while still being close enough that you can make it after work on a Friday!

The campground itself has 125 sites and includes tent sites, back-in sites, and pull-throughs. Each site has water and electrical hookups if needed. Additionally, there are multiple bathhouses around the campground. One wonderful thing about this campground is the fact that you can rent camping equipment. This is great if you forgot something at home. Or if you are completely new to camping you can rent some of the essentials without having to spend a lot of money through the Rent-A-YURT option. Want to glamp a little harder than a Yurt? There is even a restaurant on-site to make cooking easier! I love all the amenities that are available for families in this campground! It makes camping fun and easy for the whole family.

Petit Jean Campground Details

Number of Sites: 125 RV/Tent Sites

Season: Year-Round

Cost*: $23 – 36 per night Campsites / $58 per night Rent-A-YURT

Reservations: Arkansas State Park Reservation System

Features: Limited Cell Reception / No Internet Connection / Picnic Tables / Trash and Recycling Collection / Staff on-site / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Bath Houses / Nature Programs / Play Area / Swimming Pools / Restaraunt / Electricity / Dump Station / Equipment Rentals

Regulations: Quiet Hours 10pm – Sunrise / Pet’s Welcome / Fires in provided fire grate only / No fresh wood collection

Activities: Hiking / Wildlife viewing / Nature programs / Swimming / Fishing / Boating / Waterfalls / Playgrounds / Historical Areas

1. Crater of Diamonds State Park Campground

Diamonds will be your best friend if you can hunt them out! Credit: Arkansas State Parks

The top of our list for the top family campgrounds in Arkansas is the Crater of Diamonds State Park Campground. Let’s be honest. The main pull to this campground is the incredible chance to hunt and find diamonds right in the park! This is literally one of the only places in the world where diamonds can be found just laying on the ground. In fact, as recently as 2020 a 9.07 carat diamond was found. The largest ever found was 40.23 carats!! Can you imagine being out hiking and stumbling upon one of these jewels? There is more within the park to keep the family entertained though. With the Diamond Discover Center, the water park, and walking trails. Hey, if diamonds get too boring for you there is also amethyst, garnet, jasper, agate, and quartz to hunt for! As a note you do need to purchase Diamond Search Tickets.

The campground itself is a tree-shaded campground which makes those hot and humid summer days feel a little nicer. There are 47 campsites with water, electric, and sewer connections. Most of these also include a spot for tents if you do not have an RV. If you would like something that feels a little more remote you can check out one of the five walk-in tent sites. There are two bath houses with heated showers! The sites are easy to get in and out of and with the trees you will have some privacy. Additionally, there are wonderful hiking trails that you can access from the camping area. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but staying at the Crater of Diamonds Campground will make them everyone’s best friend. So bring that rock tumbler along with you in the RV!

Crater of Diamonds Campground Details

Number of Sites: 47 RV/Tent Sites

Season: Year-Round

Cost*: $14 per night tent sites / $36 per night RV Site

Reservations: Arkansas State Park Reservation System

Features: Cell Reception / Wifi / Picnic Tables / Trash and Recycling Collection / Staff on-site / Potable Water / Fire Rings / Bath Houses / Nature Programs / Play Area / Water Park / Electricity / Dump Station / Equipment Rentals

Regulations: Quiet Hours 10pm – Sunrise / Pet’s Welcome / Fires in provided fire grate only / No fresh wood collection

Activities: Hiking / Wildlife viewing / Nature programs / Water Park / Diamond Hunting / Rock Collecting / Museum / Gift Shop

What is your favorite Arkansas Campground? Tell us in in the comments below, on our Facebook, or on Reddit! (Admittedly we also really enjoy Hot Springs National Park and are planning to do a follow-up post on the park as a whole soon!)

*All costs and other information shown on this page are at the time of research and are subject to change. Please check linked reservation tools or contact facilities directly for the most up-to-date prices, availability, and site regulations/information.

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